Put Your Oxygen Mask on First, Mama

April 22, 2019

On a recent flight, the stewardess passed by with a quick reminder about my oxygen mask.

“Mama, put your mask on first,” she said, reminding me that in the case of a change in cabin pressure, I must first put my own oxygen mask on before helping my kids. 

Her reminder got me thinking…How often since having babies have I actually taken the time to focus FIRST on the things that give me life? My day-to-day routine as a mom usually doesn’t require an oxygen mask in case of emergency, but there are necessities in my spiritual, emotional, and even physical life that I regularly set aside.

My nature is to roll out of bed and immediately begin accomplishing things, taking care of everyone else but myself. By the end of the day, I’m drained, frustrated, and empty. I fling on my “oxygen mask” for a few hurried gasps: reading a chapter in the Bible, taking a long shower, and falling exhausted into bed, only to repeat the whole draining process the next day.

I’ve learned this lesson the hard way: Try as I might, I cannot pour from an empty cup. But when I set aside time to take care of myself in the morning, I breathe easier all day long. I’m a better wife, a better mom, and an all around better human! My kids, my husband, and my home also reap the rewards of a rested, happy mama. 

I have several areas in my life that often need attention for my overall wellbeing. But there are three particular oxygen masks that I need to put on before I can help those that need me:

Spiritual Oxygen

First and foremost, I must be able to breathe spiritually before I can attend to anything else. A short time of prayer and quick selection of scriptures in the Bible does wonders for my state of mind, if I do it FIRST, at the beginning of my day.

Mental Oxygen

A cup of coffee and 20 minutes of silence comes FIRST. Before the day starts and I’m fielding questions about how horses have babies and why penguins have wings but can’t fly, I need a mental breath to reclaim the space in my head that used to belong just to me .

Emotional Oxygen

This needs to happen not so much FIRST, but definitely often. Find some friends who get you. I have several close friends that I keep in contact with, all in the same stage of life, raising small children.  Each of them know what it feels like to be at her wit’s end with kids, grouchy because babies are teething, and not finishing sentences because she hasn’t had a full night’s sleep in what feels like years. We don’t always agree on every single issue, and that’s okay. One thing we do all agree on: we’re there for each other. I don’t need clones of me, but I do need true friends to give me a breath of perspective and camaraderie.

A quick Google search explained why it’s necessary to put your own oxygen mask on first, rather than follow the deep mommy instinct to save our kids before ourselves:

“The conclusion? This is why it’s so important to put your mask on first – because without oxygen, you might not be physically capable of putting your child’s mask on, let alone your own. By attending to your own first, it ensures you will have the mental and physical facilities needed to take care of your children. If you become incapacitated through lack of oxygen, you’re no use to anyone.” [Express.co, https://www.express.co.uk/travel/articles/758140/hypoxia-definition-flight-mask]

Let this blog be a reminder for you, mama. Put YOUR oxygen mask on first. Take care of YOU so you can take care of those that need you most.

And remember mama, if you’re doing your best, you’re doing a good job.